Genre: J2 RPS
Word Count: 6000
Notes: Written for spn_reversebang. Thanks so much to sillie82for providing the beautiful artwork that served as inspiration, and for being an absolute treasure to work with. To my dear beta flawlessglitch, without whom this thing would be so damn sloppy and to dugindeepfor titling advice. Finally, thanks to the mods for running such a tight ship. Title and cut text courtesy of the Stripes, and I paraphrased a line by Edna O'Brien. It went to a good cause.
sillie82's art post is over here. Absolutely beautiful.
Summary: It's not all that much fun falling in love with your best friend, particularly when the guy can't seem to keep his hands to himself.
It was just a Sunday when it happened, a Sunday like any other, with not a thing remarkable about it. They were on their way home from Sunday supper at his folk’s place and Jared was driving, radio on low and hardly audible over the road noise and the whoosh of the heat pumping from the dashboard. Jared’s belly was full with his momma’s Kentucky pecan pie, heavy on the chocolate and even heavier on the bourbon. The leftovers sat bagged in the back seat, and Jared got the occasional whiff of brown sugar and liquor.
Jensen slept beside him, tucked into the passenger seat, head leaned against the window, legs set in a comfortable sideways sprawl in the foot well. He had one hand curled in a loose fist between his face and the glass, mashing up his mouth and setting his jaw slightly askew, the other hand was open, palm up and resting limp and high on his thigh. He rocked a little with the movement of the car, the bumps in the road and the turns as Jared circled their block twice searching and finally finding an open spot to park.
“Hey,” Jared whispered, rubbing his knuckles along Jensen upper arm. “Up and at ‘em.”
There was a slight flicker from Jensen’s closed eyelids but otherwise not a budge. Jared touched Jensen’s hand instead, scritched his nails along Jensen’s fingers, followed the path of the slender bones, finding the dips in the lines on his palm and the thin skin of his inner wrist. In his sleep, Jensen turned his hand some, hooking his thumb around Jared’s and moving it in a slow arc before growing still once more.
Something curled low in Jared’s stomach, some inexplicably sharp stab of heat cut a path through his chest. The better part of a decade had passed since he’d first met Jensen, since Jensen had shown up in the doorway of what soon became their dorm room their freshman year at college, burdened with boxes and bags and wearing a nervous grin. A lot of history stacked between then and now, and Jared was hard pressed to think of any memory worth having from the last several years of his life that didn’t feature Jensen front and center. Everyone referred to them as a matched set, like bookends, understandably so.
All this time, and Jared had never known how perfectly their hands fit together. It should have been obvious, though. They seemed to fit in every other way.
Jared sat there, listening to the engine’s cooling tic, and traced the bones in Jensen’s wrist, his thoughts misfiring as he tried to remember the names for them, but human physiology didn’t factor into his everyday operation. Jensen would know, though. He had a mind for that sort of thing; odd facts, the Latin names for plants, capitals of countries Jared barely knew existed.
Jensen breathed in quick through his nose, and Jared looked up, found Jensen staring at him through lowered eyelids. He curled his fingers against the inside of Jared’s wrist, situated them so that their hands lined up, threaded them together then gave Jared a light squeeze. He leaned in a little, just enough that Jared seriously considered meeting him half way, the buzz of a sudden rush of blood sending his mind into a tailspin.
With another squeeze, Jensen let go and offered a smile instead, soft and small and worn down with sleep. “We’re home?”
It wasn’t what Jared expected, but maybe Jensen was handing him a pass, and Jared figured he’d better run with it. “Looks like it,” Jared said, scrambling for the handle of the car door and fleeing around the front.
Jensen was still yawning and stretching as he took to the stairs with a grumble. “Would it have killed us to get a place on the ground floor?”
“You’re the one who didn’t want anyone above us,” Jared pointed out, gamely ignoring the want that thrummed beneath his skin and put a tremor in his hands as he stared at the small of Jensen’s back and watched the shift and roll of Jensen’s hips as Jensen trudged up the steps.
“Remember that guy?” Jensen mused. “At that first place, junior year at school? The stomper? I don’t think that man ever took a normal step in his life.” He turned to the next flight, his arms held above his head in another long stretch, his back arching and shoulders bunching beneath his shirt.
Jared laughed, the noise of it rattling against the walls of the stairwell and bouncing back to him sounding forced and unnatural. “Pretty sure his shoes were made outta concrete. Steel reinforced. And that music he used to listen to.”
“If that’s what you’d call it.” Jensen plugged the key in the lock in their apartment door and turned back to Jared. “Next time we’re going subterranean.”
“No sunlight.” Jared said, following him inside and kicking off his shoes in response to Jensen’s pointed look.
“No stairs,” Jensen countered, heading toward his room and already pulling his shirt over his head. “I’ll get you a grow light if you want. Not like you need one.”
Jared ditched his socks and went to the kitchen, poured himself a glass half full of something strong and then climbed through the wide living room window to the fire escape. The dark metal grate pressed grids into the soles of his bare feet and he propped his arms on the damp line of the railing. He emptied the glass, wished he’s brought the bottle, and settled for looking out across his small section of the city instead. The red reflections of brake lights on wet pavement, someone coming out of the Thai joint down the street, the flicker of the neon sign that hung on the small Italian market a block away in the opposite direction. He tipped the glass back to catch one last drop and let it burn a hole in his tongue.
What he needed was a broader perspective. His circle of friends had tightened over the past few years, and they all revolved around Jensen. Jared had been working too hard and playing too little. Maybe he’d pick up a new hobby, something different to bend his mind toward. Join a damn book club or sign up for a class. Take up needle point or bird watching or something equally time-wasting that would put some space between them.
He thought about something he’d read once, maybe for his freshman psych class ages back. Something about the rules of attraction that involved proximity and familiarity, and hell, he had both of those in his corner with Jensen. But if that was the case, then Jensen was miraculously immune. He’d deal with this the same way he’d dealt with so many other roadblocks in his life: with a heaping dose of avoidance tempered with a decent serving of denial.
Jared spoke with his hands as much as with his mouth, had an impressive wingspan and wasn’t shy about using it. It had taken him about a month to bust past Jensen’s force field, not that it had been too hard. Their first dorm room had been about the size of a generous jail cell, and Jared had needed to nearly crawl over Jensen to get to his closet back then.
Since those days, their army of small touches and thoughtless affection had evolved into an unspoken language. Jared knew what it meant when Jensen squeezed his thigh beneath a barroom table to tell him he was bored, and he knew that Jensen’s head tipped briefly on his shoulder said that he was tired. Without a lick of self-consciousness, Jensen would shove his cold hands beneath Jared’s shirt to get a rise out of him. Jared had come to expect Jensen’s sleep warm palm on the back of his neck--his way of saying good morning--while Jared guzzled down his first cup of coffee with an empty stare at the kitchen counter. Greeting Jensen with a hip check and a hand scuffing up his hair was second nature, something akin to a knee jerk reaction.
Jared sat on his side of the couch, jammed against the arm and his feet on the coffee table, looking in the direction of the television but not really watching it. He didn’t turn around when he heard the snick of Jensen’s key in the lock, or at the sound of the fridge door opening and closing. Jensen wordlessly handed him a bottle, clinked the longnecks together then flopped down on the couch at the opposite end.
When Jensen shoved his feet beneath Jared’s ass, Jared jumped a mile high, some of his beer spilling over his fingers and onto his jeans.
Jensen wiggled his toes and frowned at him. “What’s up with you recently? You’re all twitchy.”
“Am I?” Jared asked, feigning distraction. “How was work?”
“Another day of building better buildings. It sucked. You?”
Jensen had been drafted into an architecture firm well before the ink on his degree was even dry. His superiors dealt with his quirks in exchange for his talent. In this age of computer-driven drafting, Jensen insisted on putting his initial ideas down on paper first, said that was the only way he could wrap his head around a design. Jensen’s fingers were stained with graphite, shiny with the stuff, and there was a streak of it below his bottom lip. Jared could picture it, easy as breathing, the way Jensen bent over a drafting table, running his thumb over his bottom lip in a constant, thoughtful tic.
Jared had done this a million other times, no reason it should be any different now. He convinced himself that it would be weirder if he didn’t do it. Leaning toward Jensen, he licked his thumb and smudged it beneath Jensen’s mouth. Jensen rolled his eyes and gave him a half-hearted thwack but held still anyway. His lip was soft, snagged and gave some under Jared’s thumb, made Jared think hard and heavy about kissing him, if Jensen would just roll with it, make space for Jared as he came in closer, or if Jensen would push back. It made Jared wonder how he might taste. He finished quickly with a small pat to Jensen’s cheek, and let his hand fall to the bony angles of Jensen’s ankle, not entirely able to help himself. He was so screwed. Royally.
“Might have Joe over tomorrow night,” Jensen said around the mouth of his beer bottle. “Y’know. For supper.”
“I’ll clear out,” Jared said. Jensen had gone out with the guy a couple times, nothing serious. Even still, Jared found himself swallowing past the dry lump in his throat and refusing to call it jealousy.
Jensen withdrew a foot from beneath Jared and nudged at his hip, leaving it there and curling his toes against the bone. “Stay. At least until he gets here. I want you to meet him.”
“Bringing a guy home to meet the folks, huh?”
“Sorta, I guess.” Jensen shrugged. “I don’t like knowing someone you don’t know.”
“I’ll have my shotgun ready.” The statement was only partially ironic.
Jared dropped his messenger bag in the tiled entrance, wincing when he heard the plastic crack of his tape recorder hitting the floor. He yanked at his tie, and reminded himself, yet again, that getting a BA in English was probably the result of a prolonged lapse in judgment. Campaigns were amping up with mere weeks before the election and Jared had spent the day criss-crossing the city, picking up audio files from frazzled reporters. He’d probably be stuck in his room all night, plugged into his headphones, playing speeches and transcribing the same song and dance over and over, only in different words each time.
The apartment smelled like his mom’s house, like cinnamon and potpourri, and Jared paused to look around. The lights were dimmed, candles lit here and there. The place was picked up and vacuumed, and in the background, Johnny Cash was singing soft and low about killing a man just to watch him die.
Jensen emerged shirtless from the bathroom, his favorite jeans hanging low on his waist, worn thin at the knees and as soft as silk. “Answer the door if it makes noise,” Jensen said, heading toward his bedroom, hopefully in search of a shirt.
“Pulling out all the stops, huh?”
“Fuck you,” Jensen said cheerfully, popping him the finger for good measure.
“Now? But company’s coming,” Jared replied.
Johnny Cash had just launched into a tale about a boy named Sue when Joe showed up, bearing bags of Chinese take-out. Jared was begrudgingly impressed. The guy was all high cheekbones, piercing blue eyes and well-defined muscles barely contained beneath a snug t-shirt. Jensen could have done worse. A lot worse.
Once introductions were out of the way, Joe leaned toward Jared with a conspiratorial whisper. “What should I know about Jensen?”
Jared chewed on his lips, wondering how he could condense eight years of knowledge into a neat five sentence paragraph, and furthermore, whether or not he really wanted to give this guy any sort of head start. “First off,” Jared began, “don’t eat your food with chopsticks. Not unless you wanna hear a speech about cultural relativity featuring footnotes on Franz Boas and Margaret Mead.”
“What’s wrong with chopsticks?”
Jared shook his head. “It’s a thing.”
Joe hiked a thumb toward the stereo. “Johnny Cash?”
In Jensen’s mind, Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix formed the holy trinity, with Garcia, Merle Haggard, Kurt Cobain and Jerry Lee Lewis taking their rightful places among the apostles. It didn’t make sense, but this was Jensen, so it really didn’t have to.
Jared had barely opened his mouth to issue a warning when Jensen piped up. “Damn right Johnny Cash. One of the baddest badasses to ever draw breath.”
Joe started to protest. Knowing what was going to come next, Jared just crossed his arms over his chest and waited for it to happen.
“His concert at San Quentin,” Jensen said. “He played in front of a room full of killers and had them all screaming louder than a flock of teenage girls at goddamn boy band concert. That man is badass.”
Joe conceded, didn’t actually have a choice, and Jared smiled, smug like he’d been the one to prove the point. He kept smiling until he saw the guy unpack the food and break open a wax paper package of chopsticks, took note of the way Jensen’s mouth pressed into a thin line and his eyes narrowed, wicked and lit up. There was no way Jared was going to stick around for this one and he begged off, scooping his bag into his arms and making it half way down the stairs before realizing he’d forgotten his headphones. He decided he’d buy a new pair on the way to the bar that would be his temporary office for the night.
“Hey Jared, move over.” Jensen’s speech was sloppy, the words running together.
“What’s going on?” Jared slurred back at him. He cracked open one eye, saw that dawn was still hours away and rolled onto his side, yanking the blankets over his middle. He’d come home from the bar to find a note on the fridge telling him that Jensen had gone out to a different one, along with an open invitation. Jared had declined, wasn’t in the mood to watch Jensen make gooey eyes all night long.
“I forgot to put my sheets in the dryer. C’mon.” Pushy fingers poked at Jared’s ribs, forcing him to surrender a bit more ground. Jensen flopped onto the bed, pulling at the covers and stealing one of Jared’s pillows. He smelled like limes, margaritas and someone else’s aftershave, and his keys were still in his pocket, judging from the sharp stab Jared felt in the small of his back when Jensen settled in beside him and made the unavoidable slide into the dip in the center of the mattress.
“What’s wrong with the couch?” Jared muttered, talking into his pillow.
“Steve’s on it.”
“What’s wrong with Steve’s place?”
“He can’t find his phone,” Jensen said.
Jared hummed, sure that on some level whatever Jensen had just said made sense and that he was simply too tired to figure it out. “Good time tonight?” Jared asked.
“Yeah. Sure, I guess.” Jensen breathed in deep, let it out in a slow, low whistle through his pursed lips.
“Care to elaborate?”
Jared burrowed deeper into his pillow, shivered when Jensen shoved his cold feet against his warm ones.
“You know that new club around the corner?” Jensen asked. “The one that’s opening on Friday?”
Jared made an affirmative noise, something in the tone of Jensen’s voice putting up red flags.
“Think you might wanna go with me?”
“No way we’d get in,” Jared said. “The line’s gonna be a mile long.”
“Joe’s got a gig there. He’s their sound guy. He says he can put us on the list.”
“The list, huh? Looks like you’re coming up in the world, brother.” Truth was, he was prepared to offer Jensen the goddamn Hope diamond if it meant that Jensen would stay pressed up so snugly along his back. His plan to put some space between them was sinking fast, and made futile by the fact that Jensen didn’t know well enough to keep his hands to himself. “Yeah. I’ll go.”
The guy guarding the door gave them the once over, taking in Jared’s banged up boots and Jensen’s backward baseball cap before flipping through the pages on his clipboard. A line had formed, stretching down and around the block. The deep bass thud pouring from the building rattled along Jared’s back teeth.
Inside, the place boasted tall ceilings, and a catwalk around the perimeter about a story up, already packed with people. The dance floor was lit up and multi-colored, reminded Jared of something out of Saturday Night Fever.
Joe emerged from the throng of folks, a drink in each hand. He passed them over and crowded in close to Jensen, pressing a hand to the small of his back and leading them toward a corner booth, horseshoe-shaped with thick cushions. Joe stayed on his feet, leaned over the table and set his knuckles to the shiny surface.
“Opening night jitters?” Jensen shouted over the music.
With a shake of his head, Joe said, “More like opening night glitches.” He dug into his back pocket and tossed a few tokens for free drinks onto the table. “Speaking of which...” Joe looked around, and gestured to somebody Jared didn’t see. “Don’t go far,” he told Jensen as he backed away. “I don’t want to lose track of you.”
The music was loud, made conversation nearly impossible, and Jared settled for peering into the open room, carefully keeping Jensen in his periphery. This was definitely the kind of place to see and be seen. B-list actors with their little entourages dotted the crowd, and everyone was turned out in their Friday night best. Jared felt a bit out of place in his worn jeans and ancient, threadbare shirt.
They drank to the bottom of their glasses and Jensen slid his across the table. “Refill?” He continued, “Something with a little less sugar and a little more alcohol.”
Jared rolled his eyes and snorted, weaved through people on the way to the bar and spotted Joe leaning up against the corner talking to another guy. He stood half turned away from Jared, but his smirking leer was clear as anything as he tipped his chin toward Jensen. “He’s a bit of a know-it-all, but the things I could do to that mouth of his.”
Jared felt something inside of him bend, break completely when the guy Joe was talking to snickered and slouched in close to say something Jared couldn’t hear. It was then that Joe caught sight of Jared, an instantaneous flush darkening his face. Jared might have let it slide, but Joe slackjawed look screamed of guilt. “Jared,” Joe cajoled, “I was just talking shit. You know how guys are.”
“I don’t know, actually,” Jared replied, surprise by his own calm tone. “Suppose I spent my time with a higher class of people.” He cut a path back to the table, Joe following close behind him babbling excuses and apologies.
“No drinks?” Jensen asked.
“Got waylaid,” Jared said. “I gotta go.”
Jensen blinked at him in confusion for a second, his gaze sliding between Jared and Joe before finally snagging and sticking to Jared. He stood up, close enough to Jared so that their hips touched. A lunatic picture flashed through Jared’s mind of bullies teaming up on a playground. He was glad to have Jensen in his corner.
“What?” Joe said. “Someone pisses you off, and you pack up your toys and leave?”
Jared’s attempt at biting off his fast flash of anger was doomed from the start. He flattened his palm against the back of Jensen’s neck to stop his hand from forming a fist, speaking in an even, measured tone. “Nobody screws with what’s mine.”
Shock widened Joe eyes. “Yours? He--Jensen’s not yours,” he stammered.
Jensen hooked his fingers in the waistband of Jared’s jeans and started dragging him toward the door, reading the situation for what it was and going with Jared’s instincts. “Actually,” he started, “I kinda am.”
The cooler air outside lowered Jared’s blood from a rolling boil to a steady simmer, and he set a cruel pace on the walk back to their place. Jensen fell into a loping jog to keep up. “Everything okay?” he panted as they approached the door to their building.
Jared bit off his answer. “It’s fine. You okay?”
Jensen held his arms out, his mouth set in a sarcastic shape. “Never been better.”
Jared took the steps double time, made the landing before Jensen had even reached the last flight. He made a fist around his keys, letting the metal bite into his palm, and offer a sort of grounding clarity.
“You can go back,” Jared said once Jensen caught up. “If you want to.”
“Or you can tell me what the hell just happened.” Jensen pried the key loose from Jared’s hand, unlocked the door and led them inside.
“I overreacted,” Jared admitted. Collapsing on the couch, Jared tipped his head back, closed his eyes and shoved a hand through his hair. “Sorry.”
The sofa cushion shifted under Jensen’s weight when he sat down and slid in close, fitting himself along Jared’s side and leaning into him. “I can take care of myself, you know.” His hand fell on Jared’s knee, thumb scratching along the seam in his jeans.
Jared wrapped his arm around Jensen’s shoulders, felt the slip of Jensen’s thin sweater beneath his fingers, the gentle curve of his arm. “Yeah, but you shouldn’t have to.”
Jensen’s hand tightened on his leg for a fleeting moment, the muscles in his back clenched suddenly, then Jensen cleared his throat, pushed himself to his feet fast. “I’m still thirsty. You thirsty?” He crossed to the kitchen, started thumping through cabinets. The mouth of the bottle clattered against the lip of the glass as he poured it, and Jared wondered why Jensen’s hands were shaking.
Jared took the glass Jensen passed his way and downed a gulp, whiskey setting a slow fire in his stomach. “I screwed up,” he started. “Joe’s nice enough. He’s into you.”
“He just wants to get into my pants.”
“Still, that’s a lot more fun than sitting around here.”
“Will you stop? I told you--” Jensen cut off, caught the corner of his lip between his teeth and chewed on it. He leveled a look at Jared, so heated and dark that Jared felt it like a hit to the chest. “He was a distraction.” Jensen huffed a short laugh, scrubbed a hand through his hair. “Almost feel sorry for the guy.”
“A distraction from what?”
Jensen didn’t answer him, only stepped in close and wrapped a warm hand around the back of Jared’s neck, his touch so familiar that Jared ached with it. “Goddamn. Please don’t let this fuck it all up,” Jensen said quietly.
Jared’s heart was creeping up into his throat, his skin taking on a sort of tingling numbness, and then Jensen kissed him, simple as anything. It was a soft, almost tentative thing, the way Jensen’s hand shook like this was the single most frightening thing he’d ever done, and the gentle press of his lips and the light brush of his exhale when backed away a fraction of an inch.
Jared framed Jensen’s face with hands that suddenly felt clumsy and too big, fitted his palms to the curves of Jensen’s cheekbones and ran his thumb along the seam of his mouth. Jensen’s lips fell open, his eyelids fluttering closed as he sucked the tip of Jared’s thumb in, holding the pad of it between his teeth.
His mouth was wet, so, so hot and the curl of Jensen’s tongue around his finger made Jared hiss, a deep need slamming into him that left him lightheaded and trapped his breath in his lungs. Jared kissed him back, couldn’t stop kissing him, wondered why they’d waited so long to start. He shivered when Jensen opened up, at the feel of Jensen so close and the slow slip of their tongues. Tangling his hands in Jared’s hair, Jensen angled the kiss deeper, sucked on Jared’s tongue and scraped his teeth along Jared’s bottom lip, kissed him like he was starving for it.
Jared pushed in closer, some small part of his mind refuting the reality of this. Their chests and hips flush together, Jared’s blood spiked with the taste of Jensen’s mouth. Jensen pressed back with a thin, needy sound, and started walking Jared backward toward their rooms. He spun Jared around by his hips, peeled Jared’s shirt over his head and brushed his hair away to kiss at the back of his neck.
“Is this gonna be weird?” Jensen asked, speaking into Jared’s shoulder, his smile roving along Jared’s skin. He reached around and cupped the front of Jared’s jeans, a delicious pressure that made Jared stagger and seek out the wall to hold him up.
“We can deal with weird in the morning,” Jared said, gasping when Jensen crowded in close behind, rolled his hips against Jared’s ass and set his teeth in the crook of Jared’s neck.
Jared’s room was closest, and Jensen paused in the doorway, throwing his shirt into a corner. “Shoulda made your bed.”
“Shoulda told me you were coming over,” Jared shot back and sat on the edge of his mattress.
Jensen snorted a laugh that still managed to be sexy as hell and slid into his lap, legs spread wide and straddling Jared’s, his mouth playing wicked tricks along Jared’s jaw and his arms slung loose around his neck.
Jared flipped him over easily, landed Jensen on the bed with a small bounce and laughed at the surprised grin that earned him. He stole a second just to look. Jensen was beautiful like this, smiling and happy, pupils wide, lips kissed swollen and dark, a flush coloring his face and creeping down his neck. All of Jensen’s well known lines and familiar angles seemed rearranged into something strange and different and wholly fascinating.
Reaching out to tuck Jared’s bangs behind his ear, Jensen said, “It’s okay, just come here.”
Any lingering doubt evaporated when Jared covered Jensen’s body with his own and slotted their legs together, felt the hard ridge of Jensen’s cock straining against his hip. Jensen tossed his head into the pillows with a moan, arched his back beneath Jared, dug his fingers past the waistband of Jared’s jeans, trying to pull him in impossibly closer. Jared moved against him, grinding down steady and slow, trying to maintain control and draw this out as long as he could.
“Never knew you to be a tease,” Jensen said, voice pitched to a low growl. He skated his hands down Jared’s ribs, then found leverage to roll them over on their sides, fumbling at Jared’s jeans. He barely got them past Jared’s hips before tugging his own down to his knees and kicking them off, hasty and instantly impatient.
It was a close thing, Jared almost came at the sight of Jensen spitting into his palm and taking them both in hand, the feeling of bare, hot skin nearly sending Jared over the edge.
Riding out the low ache in his belly and in his balls, he tangled his fingers with Jensen’s, biting back a groan at the smooth friction of Jensen’s cock in his hand, the perfect heat of it. Jensen wrapped a leg around his hip, dug his heel into the back of Jared’s leg and set a rocking rhythm, grinding and insistent. It stole Jared’s restraint, and he pulled Jensen to his chest as his orgasm hit, buried his nose in Jensen’s neck and breathed in deep. Jensen strained against him, breaking rhythm as his hips fell into small, sharp jabs. Jensen’s stomach muscles pulled tight, and his leg locked down snug around Jared’s waist as he came, sticky and hot, streaking their stomachs and their hands.
Jared barely moved, stuck in the feeling of Jensen snugged up against his chest, their hips still rolling in lazy movements as they passed through the aftershocks. When he looked down at Jensen, every thing seemed hazy, blurred around the edges.
Jensen rolled to his back and heaved a huge breath, got up and started to dig through the wrecked bed for his shorts.
Propping himself up on his elbows, Jared told him, “You can stay.”
“You sure?” Jensen asked, incongruently shy.
“You’ve done it a thousand times anyway,” Jared pointed out, then winced. He didn’t have the right lexicon for this sort of situation, doubted that anyone actually did. “I want you to stay.”
Jensen slid back in, fitted himself along Jared’s back. Jared smiled when Jensen wrapped a hand around his hip, downright grinned when he felt Jensen press his forehead to the center of his back.
It was an Indian summer day, a little chill to the steady breeze but the sun was strong and bright, beating down on Jared’s head and warming the back of his neck. One last grasping dive for summertime, and Jared was thankful. His nose was stuffy and there was a slight wheeze to his breathing that told him a cold was coming on. But never mind that, a day like this so late in the fall was a gift, and Jared reckoned he ought to make good on it, even if he didn’t think he deserved it.
He’d awoken this morning with a Jensen-shaped empty space in his bed and a gnawing doubt growing in his mind. Banging around the house hadn’t made it any better, so he’d gone to the coffee joint they often haunted, with equal parts of hope and dread that he’d find Jensen there.
Now, balancing two cups of coffee, he walked past the door to his apartment and made for the end of the hallway, ignoring the sign on the heavy metal door that told him that an alarm would sound. The thing hadn’t worked for the better part of a year.
He emerged onto the rooftop, loose gravel scraping under the soles of his shoes. The sight of Jensen sitting on the edge of the roof made Jared’s stomach drop to his feet and his heart slam against his ribcage, as if someone was playing cat’s cradle with his insides. Jensen dug his hands deeper into the pockets of his hooded sweatshirt. Jensen looked pale, tired. The sunshine highlighted the laugh lines branching from the corners of his eyes as he squinted up at Jared.
Nothing had changed. Jensen didn’t look any different. The same slightly crooked bump in the center of his nose, the same easy and generous little smile, and the same graceful bend in his neck as he returned his stare back toward the street several stories below.
That was all smoke and mirrors, though. Jensen was the same guy he’d always known, sure, but now he also knew the sound of Jensen’s voice when he came, that thin, breathy noise. Jared knew that Jensen slammed his eyes down tight and frowned so that a line formed beneath his brows. He could still feel the press of Jensen’s hands on his ribs, cupping his ass, digging into his upper arms. If he let his mind wander far enough afield, he imagined he could still taste him.
Jared settled in next to him, a hand’s breadth and two coffee cups separating them. They were quiet for a while, the background city noise and the scuff of Jared’s heels against the brick wall of the building seemed very loud.
“Falling for my best friend,” Jensen started, huffing a laugh and giving his head a rueful shake. “I might as well run around and snatch up every cliché known to man in a fucking butterfly net.”
Jared nodded, let Jensen’s words sink in slow and wash over him. Jensen raised his arms then allowed them to fall, palms slapping the concrete ledge before shoving his hands back into his pockets. “There you have it. I just. I wanted you know what I know.” Jensen smiled at him, shy and maybe a little scared, heartbreaking in a way.
“How long?” Jared asked.
Jensen spoke, not looking up. “It’s. It was staying up all night with me cramming for tests, even when you didn’t have one, and how you always listen to me and never interrupt. Everyone always interrupts me. It’s those goddamn pancakes you make with the vanilla and all that powdered sugar. How you look at me sometime and just smile, and the way you lick your thumb and wipe off my face like you think you’re my mother and I’m two years old. It’s the way you fold my shirts when it’s your turn to do the laundry, and how you put cinnamon in the bottom of the coffee pot so that it won’t be so bitter.” He drew in a stuttering breath. “You ever do that thing, where you lay in bed at night and think about where you’re gonna end up? I think about it sometimes, and all I can see, ten years down the line, is you and me in one crap apartment or another. You still bitching at me about leaving dirty coffee spoons on the counter and me still bitching at you for forgetting to take your shoes off. And it seems perfect to me. I don’t want anything else.” He finally looked over. “So I don’t know how long it’s been this way. I just know it’s probably been somewhere close to forever.”
Jared slid his hand into Jensen’s pocket, fit their fingers together, squeezed and kept them that way. “Long enough.”
Jensen’s voice broke some when he said, “What?”
Jared shook his head, his tongue feeling too big for his mouth. He was always one to say the most inadequate things. “For me. It’s been long enough.”
Thanks for reading.